CALGARY – The National Energy Board has released a schedule that it says will allow it to reconsider its approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in time to meet a Feb. 22 federal government deadline.
The federal regulator is imposing filing deadlines starting this month, will hear oral traditional evidence by Indigenous groups in November and December, and will hear potential oral summary arguments in January.
The plan to triple capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., is in limbo while Ottawa, which now owns the pipeline, attempts to fulfil a court’s requirements to consult Indigenous communities and consider the environmental impact of additional oil tankers off the coast.
The federal government ordered the NEB to reconsider parts of Trans Mountain’s application related to marine shipping and appointed former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities.
After gathering input from the public on two options earlier this month, the NEB says it will limit its consideration of project-related shipping to the area between the Westridge Marine Terminal and the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea limit, not to Canada’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
It also corrected the number of approved interveners to 99, noting it had initially released an incorrect total of 98 on Oct. 5.
“The NEB’s hearing will be a comprehensive scientific and technical examination of project-related marine shipping,” said NEB chief environment officer Robert Steedman in a statement.